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By Nancy Scola on July 17, 2007 - 9:30am
Break out the cots because the big news on Capitol Hill is that Majority Leader Harry Reid is planning to keep the Senate in session all night long tonight. The move is intended to highlight the fact that Republicans won't allow a pure up-or-down vote on the Levin-Reed Amendment concerning troop reduction in Iraq. More on the amendment in a minute, but on the procedural end, you might hear this talked about as a filibuster-type move. It's not.
Republicans have made plain the fact that they will not allow the Senate to hold a regular ol' vote on the measure because it currently has enough votes to pass the Senate. (What I'm hearing is that it has 52 votes in favor -- every Democratic vote, plus Senators Sanders (I-VT), Snowe (I-ME), Hagel (R-NE) and Smith (R-OR). To break a Republican filibuster, the bill needs 60 votes, and it doesn't have it as of yet. What Reid is pushing for is a straight yea-or-nay/majority rules vote on the amendment.
Reid, using his powers as Majority Leader, will keep in Senate in session overnight tonight for a total of 30 hours. Why 30? Because Senate rules provide for 30 hours of debate once the Senate demonstrates that it wants to keep debating. As Bob Geiger puts it: "In other words, the Majority Leader is saying [to Republicans] 'You want to debate? We'll stay all night and debate.'"
Back to the policy itself. The Levin-Reed amendment (S.AMDT.2011) is an add-on to the Department of Defense authorization bill and what it does is require that George Bush do two main things. First, begin reducing the number of troops in Iraq within 120 days of passage. And second, ensure that most troops are out of Iraq by April 30, 2008.